Plagues and Peoples

Plagues and Peoples

3.6 22
by William McNeill
     
 

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Upon its original publication, Plagues and Peoples was an immediate critical and popular success, offering a radically new interpretation of world history as seen through the extraordinary impact--political, demographic, ecological, and psychological--of disease on cultures. From the conquest of Mexico by smallpox as much as by the Spanish, to the bubonic

Overview

Upon its original publication, Plagues and Peoples was an immediate critical and popular success, offering a radically new interpretation of world history as seen through the extraordinary impact--political, demographic, ecological, and psychological--of disease on cultures. From the conquest of Mexico by smallpox as much as by the Spanish, to the bubonic plague in China, to the typhoid epidemic in Europe, the history of disease is the history of humankind. With the identification of AIDS in the early 1980s, another chapter has been added to this chronicle of events, which William McNeill explores in his new introduction to this updated editon.

Thought-provoking, well-researched, and compulsively readable, Plagues and Peoples is that rare book that is as fascinating as it is scholarly, as intriguing as it is enlightening. "A brilliantly conceptualized and challenging achievement" (Kirkus Reviews), it is essential reading, offering a new perspective on human history.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307773661
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/27/2010
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
228,457
File size:
1 MB

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3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
 AP World History Review Plagues and Peoples is a thought provoking novel filled with great written descriptions of the world's many diseases and plagues. The time frame includes the times as early as BC to present AD. McNeill gives a great amount of detail that include cause and effect and comparison between the sicknesses that were brought upon the human race. He explains every element of each disease or plague that was known in human history.The different time frames given throughout the book give the reader a window of our evolution with disease that is unbeatable.  I would highly recommend this book to any high school student, specifically a student in a higher level history class. McNeill gives great insight and detail that loads you up with all this information. One of the best things he does is illustrate all of this information so well that it gives you an extremely in depth analysis of peoples' suffering and the diseases they coped with. Any history enthusiast would find this book to be an incredible read. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Plagues and Peoples overflows with possibilities and theories as the author, William McNeill, tries to reconstruct the terrible effects of epidemics which came down on mankind over the past several thousand years. Using the framework of recorded world history, he imposes key events and plagues that may have occurred at the same time and explains the likely interactions and results. This is especially difficult because there are few records of the epidemics. People did not know why others were dying. They could not see the causes, only the effects. These plagues took place before medicine was an established profession. In fact, the microscope had not yet been invented. The author uses modern knowledge of infectious diseases and projects back what would have happened when the world population was confronted by outbreaks. How do countries at war deal with armies decimated by malaria or black plague? How can countries survive the loss of half or more of their population? William McNeill took on a very challenging task in reconstructing events which took place before recorded history and other events which were recorded but not completely. I think he did a great job of providing new details to explain why many historical events may have occurred the way they did. This is a must read for serious history students. The book is crammed with information and is not a fast read. If historical knowledge is important to planning future actions, then understanding the historical impact of infectious diseases is critical at a time when AIDS and threats of influenza outbreaks are daily news headlines. My suggestion to anyone is to get a copy and read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Plagues and Peoples is a book that answers just as many questions as it stimulates. McNeill looks at world diseases from a different perspective, making it thought-provoking. He shows that people and disease are directly related in a complex biological balance. He also shows that diseases were not just road blocks in human development, but something that completely shaped societies and history. He has an interesting perspective on humans as well, saying that we are also parasites, not just victims. I would recommend this book because it offers an interesting viewpoint to world history. It is sometimes difficult to follow, but McNeill gets his points across well. He realized that he had limited information, and pointed it out throughout the book. All in all, it was a good read that gave good theories that keep you thinking for days on end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Plagues and Peoples is an enlightening novel in which Willian Hardy McNeil describes the way how different plagues and pandemics affected different time periods and the different civilazations within those times. These include 500 B.C.to 1200 A.D,. 1200-1500, and 1500-1700. William also went into specific detail about how each different ailment came into play and clearly showed why each one spread like it did due to the different elements in the regions. He does a great job getting his points across. I highly recomend this book to people rangeing from the upper teens and up especially if you are in a World History class or a history buff. He really shows you that plauges and other illnesses had a huge role in many different civilazations. I really enjoyed this book and feel that I gained alot of knowledge from it and got new insights. So pick up your copy today of Plagues and People by William Hardy McNeil.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Unlike 'Plague Time' and 'Parasite Rex' which look at the evolutionary success of diseases from a biological and behavioral viewpoint, 'Plagues and People' (as well as 'Guns, Germs and Steel') address how diseases have affected human development and human conflict. When one learns how the native American Indians were decimated by European diseases to which Europeans had already developed immunity, one suddenly sees the 'conquistadoras' in a very different light. Similarly, Europe's general failure to successfully colonize West and Central Africa was largely due to diseases which resulted in a rate of attrition that's so astounding that one wonders why the Europeans ever went there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AP World History Book Review This book was an interesting read because of the concepts on how our world works. The whole purpose of this reading was show the relationship between plagues and people. William explains how we originated in Africa and how our diseases were there as well and as time went on, we eventually migrated. He really tied theories and his own things to make a reasonable conclusion. He explained really well how we all started in Africa and gave detail how eventually disease followed us when we migrated. He showed how disease also traveled through great empires like the Mongols. He gave important facts and numbers that showed how greatly some populations decreased. His ideas were well played out throughout the entire book. He greatly talked about important plagues like the ones in America, China, and Europe. He really taught me how significant these plagues were and how they affected us today. I think the most important part he talked about was how people reacted and how we're still trying to fight disease. He speaks in great detail about religion and really made me feel like i was in the past. He really made me feel like someone from the past and his explanations showed how people in the past picked religion. He mentioned how people chose religion to protect themselves. His thinking states how we're in this certain infinite loop of disease and trying to avoid it. He gave me deeper understanding of our past and how these diseases aren't just going to go away. His ideas are just amazing and his thinking is just so logical. He has changed my perspective on how i see the world. In a way, he has opened my eyes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AP World History Book Review: Illuminating William H. McNeill requires you to look at history through his perspective. In a mixture of history, science, large vocabulary, and thought provoking sentences, the author explains his theory. McNeill believes that disease is what shaped our history; it’s not just a simple aspect of our past. He supports his theory with evidence from as far back as the early hunters and gatherers up to the 1900’s. Throughout the book, McNeill examines the effects diseases had on history of our world. Comparing it to modern times, the author makes you imagine how it must have been when diseases first hit. Today, there are species that still carry the diseases; however antibiotics have been created for treatment. As McNeill analyzes evidence of the past, you will begin to look at history through a different light. Disease wasn’t simply a part of history, it is what made our world the way it is today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
William McNeill's Plagues and Peoples is an interesting combination of both science and history, something not seen very often. Throughout the book, he analyzes the effects various diseases have on a region's history. He accomplishes this by traveling through the years, beginning with the first hunters and going well into the 1900s. In addition, this publication includes a preface where McNeill addresses AIDS, a disease named after the original publication of Plagues and Peoples. Overall, my favorite chapter in the book was The Impact of the Mongol Empire because it shows the Black Plague in incredible detail, describing the deepest origins and various paths it could have taken on its way to Europe. The author compares it to modern times and tells of various rodents that still have the disease present in them. He tells that the mortality rate back then varied from 30 to 90 percent, but even in present day this has only changed a little, 60 to 70 percent as a result of antibiotics. By comparing it to modern days, McNeill makes it easier for the reader to relate and allows the reader to understand what the Plague must have been like when it first reached Europe. Overall, this was a wonderful read that shed light on history in a whole new way. After reading Plagues and Peoples, one will understand that there is more to history than politics and religion. Diseases had an astonishing impact on a culture and the way it prospered.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Plagues and Peoples is a book for those interested in the developments of disease and the effect on the environments and lives of humans and animals alike. McNeill fully describes the social, economic, and political impact of devastating plagues to once thriving civilizations. He convinces the reader of possible and logical arguments, although there is uncertainty in recorded history. In his evidence the reader can clearly see how a society that a person lives in affects how susceptible they are to disease. For example, over-exhausted, isolated, farm workers are more likely to contract some form of sickness, rather than wealthy, urban city-goers. McNeill does address that these epidemics also had a positive impact. Religions thrived during times of plague, having their own explanation of the random outbreaks of disease, and an opportunity of salvation.
McNeill did a nice job in writing an informative and educational book. It was so informative, that it is almost overwhelming, changing how the reader once thought of how civilizations developed and existed. One of the negatives, in my opinion, was that it seemed like this book was written for others of historical expertise. It is more of a book that I can see scholars chatting about at lunch, rather than a high school student reading and being able to grasp every well-researched detail. I fully recommend this book to students with an interest in history, but prepared to read through very compact text to get the knowledge that you seek.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I would recommend this book to those who enjoy history. It gives very descriptive viewpoints about the parasitic developments throughout history. McNeill gives well-described facts about the plagues over the centuries and their impact on both the human and the animal species. McNeill reveals how parasites have developed and changed the species around them throughout years. He takes us back to the different plagues that happened throughout the years and describes how the parasitic infections changed the lives of people and how they lived. The parasitic invasions changed political, economic, agricultural, and social viewpoints in the different civilizations that the plagues won over. McNeill did an excellent job providing the details that we miss out on in some of our history books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was worth buying. However, I could have lived without the old supposition that pestilence is the only reason western culture emerged as dominant; but in the PC age I guess this is to be expected. Yawn.
Guest More than 1 year ago
McNeil offers a look at a significant component of past human history with hints at future impacts. He presents macro and micro parasitic ravages from an objective viewpoint. While admitting the absence of certainty in the historical record, he convincingly argues for logical possibilities to complete the record. The work contributes a valuable look at the impact, physically and psychologically, of many contagion and humankind¿s attempts to cope with the results. Epidemics of disease have contributed to cataclysmic changes in the course of history causing abrupt demographic change. McNeil explores the evolution of science and health services to meet and alter the impact of infectious disease as well as the application of local cultural followings that sported success with some vectors of infection. Increased understanding of the past and a good read too.